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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Hiroko here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher where I’ll answer some of *your* most common Japanese questions.
The question for this lesson is…
What is the difference between ARIGATO and DOMO?
When you go to a shop and a shop assistant hands you your change, you‘d say “Thanks.” to them. You know that ‘Arigato’ is the most common phrase in Japanese, but you hear Japanese people saying ‘Domo’ instead of ‘Arigato.’
So what’s the difference?
The word ‘domo’ itself is grammatically an adverb and means “for some reason," or “somehow.” It is used to emphasise the greeting phrases. So, this ‘Domo’ can be used together with ‘Arigato.’ as in ‘domo arigato’ meaning “Thank you so much.”
Just saying ‘domo’ would be less polite than ‘Arigato’ since it’s the short version of ‘Domo arigato.’ People use ‘domo’ rather than ‘arigato’ when they consider ‘arigato’ is a little bit formal in a situation. They also use it when they just want to say something as a reply. For example, when you leave a shop and a shop assistant says ‘Arigato gozaimashita.’ meaning “Thank you” to you, you can say ‘Domo.” as the reply.
Please note that some people consider ‘Domo.’ is a little bit rude. It would be better to use ‘Arigato.’ when you say “Thanks” to your friends.
So, what do you say when a shop assistant hand you the items you buy and you want to say “Thanks.”? ...You’d say "Domo.” Of course, you *could* say ‘Arigato’ but it sounds a little bit too formal for the situation.
One more example;
What should you say when you buy a coffee at a cafe and the shop assistant hands you the cup? … You’d say “Domo,” but here, you could also say “Arigato” to show them your appreciation for making coffee for you.
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!